The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, this morning called for “everyone – public administrations, parties and civil society – to work together to prevent discrimination, racism and xenophobia from gaining ground and growing stronger”. Torra said: “We need to reinforce the majority consensus to protect the model of social harmony and cohesion Catalonia has built over time.”
The president expressed these views at the closing of an anti-racism round table with representatives of political parties and entities, held this morning at the Centre d’Art Santa Mònica. The meeting, called by Torra and the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families, Chakir el Homrani, led to a Catalan national agreement in support of social harmony. Participants included the Catalan ombudsman, Rafael Ribó; representatives of all parliamentary groups; local and county administrations; economic and social actors, and some fifty entities involved in the Citizenship and Immigration Council.
The president welcomed the agreement. “We have a key role to play in defending the rights of people who have left their country of origin and come to Catalonia,” Torra said. And for these rights to be fully realised, “apart from feeling safe and having a job or school place, they need to feel integrated in society”, he added. “Social cohesion and integration are central to the model that we need to work together to secure.”
The head of the government stressed: “The fact that we’re here today talking about racism and discrimination means something is still going wrong.” According to Torra, social actors need to focus on finding solutions in areas where work remains to be done: “We need to reinforce the majority consensus and, above all, prevent racism from ever gaining ground and growing stronger.”
Torra argued that “Catalonia has always been – and will remain – a land of welcome and solidarity”, and that Catalans can say with pride that “in Catalonia, immigration is a place of national memory and that roots are made not on the past, but on the future”. He said: “We have the good fortune to be a country that people choose to be part of, not one of imposition.”
Minister Homrani, stressed: “The agreement we’ve signed today reflects a commitment by all parliamentary parties not to use migration in a partisan way or to score political points when campaigning, and to stand against racism and xenophobia.”
The Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families also said: “This fight is a challenge for everyone. The Catalan model for welcoming newcomers is based on diversity and interculturality.” El Homrani stressed the importance of “balance in shared values, such as human rights, democratic freedoms and respect, and the value of differences”. “We’re committed to a broad social, political and institutional consensus that protects us from populist discourses and expressions of xenophobia that periodically resurface,” he concluded.
In addition to President Torra and Minister El Homrani, the event was attended by the Secretary for Equality, Migration and Citizenship, Oriol Amorós; and the Secretary for Childhood, Adolescence and Youth, Georgina Oliva.